Machine failure may have caused deadly Mill Fire; company pledges $50M for impacted residents
WEED, Calif. — A wood products company said Wednesday that it is investigating whether a fire that killed two people as it swept through Weed was caused by the possible failure of a water-spraying machine used to cool ash at its veneer mill.
Roseburg Forest Products Co. also announced that although the investigation was not complete, it was planning to provide up to $50 million for a community restoration fund.
The Mill Fire erupted Sept. 2 at the company’s facility in Weed.
Roseburg Forest Products said in a news release that its mill produces its own electricity in a co-generation facility fueled by wood remnants, and the ash that is ejected is sprayed with cooling water by a “third-party-supplied machine.”
“Roseburg is investigating whether the third-party machine failed to cool the ash sufficiently which thereby ignited the fire,” the release said.
Hundreds of people fled as the fire spread, destroying 107 structures and damaging 26 others. The blaze eventually grew to more than 6 square miles. The fire was 65% contained Wednesday, with minimal activity.
Roseburg said its fund will assist residents with temporary shelter, medical supplies and treatment, transportation, clothing, food and water, and child care services.